newly opened “Wood Shop”
expands their decade-long love affair with Sours
. What started as an experiment that grew into craft brewing leadership is now a national thrust with more capacity to create a line of distinctive tastes available in a range of bottle sizes and on draught.
Brewing Sours in 2006 required an act of faith. In a state that had been producing sweet wines as its calling card, the idea of a decidedly acidic, tart tasting beer was asking a lot from the five patrons at the end of the cozy bar at Upland’s original 11th Street Brewpub. “They drank it all,” reported head brewer Caleb Staton
, who poured the new brew for this select set of regulars.
I was there when the offerings first came forward publicly. Except for homebrewers familiar with the Lambics and Gueze of Belgium, Flanders Red Ale and Berliner Weisse, the general population—even those embracing craft beer—was not much into the resulting taste from wild yeast strains and secondary fermentations from a variety of fruits.
And yet the reaction was positive. We tasted, sipped, commented. ‘Refreshing’ became the over-used accolade. With blackberries, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries from Huber Orchards
in Starlight, Indiana
, the barrel-aged brews gained a following. The daring brew crew expanded production. Word got out, national press paid attention, people came from elsewhere to purchase the initial 750ml bottles to be shared as a gathering libation. Pairing with food “on the wild side of things” gained momentum within regions as a particular location-based pairing. At first it was as simple as extending the enjoyment of fruit pies, fruit compotes, layered salads, goat cheese and wild game. Now, it’s another industry that embraces cooking with Sours.
Being at the forefront, Upland shared experiences and soon found colleagues in other breweries—enough that Upland could launch their first Midwest Sour+Wild+Funk Fest
in 2011. A modest handful-plus shared. Five years later the roster is bursting at forty breweries with multiple entries.
2016 Fest specifics:
, 1-5 p.m
., Indianapolis City Market
, 222 E. Market St., VIP entry 1 p.m.; GA entry 2 p.m.
Celebrating its first decade creating Sours, Upland is opening a new facility adjacent to Upland’s 11th Street Brewpub dedicated solely to producing sour ales . “The Wood Shop” name is “a nod to the barrels used in aging Upland’s sour ales, as well as a term for the place where craftsmen tinker and experiment. This focus on innovation will be the key point as Upland expands its offerings across the country,” according to the news release.
“This expansion increases the amount of beer available to meet the high demand, but more importantly, it increases our capacity for experimentation,” says Doug Dayhoff, Upland President. “Traditionally inspired sour ales take time to come to life, and the cellar capacity gives us more batches to blend into interesting creations.”
Upland now will expand sales in 330ml and 500ml bottles available for sale in bottle shops and beer bars. 750ml bottles of sour ales have primarily been available to their Secret Barrel Society, a membership group that serve as ambassadors for the program, and through an online lottery.
“Certain sour ales will also be available on draught. Together, these new formats will allow the brewery to distribute its sour ales in top beer markets across the country. Low-volume and one-of-a-kind blends will continue to primarily be available as limited releases to the Secret Barrel Society and online lottery,” according to the news release.
“In rolling out the new formats and new beers, we have also updated the packaging and bottle to better represent the Upland Sour Ales program,” notes Pete Batule, VP of Operations. “Brewing a traditionally inspired, wood-aged sour ale is an art, where each beer is a unique creation blended together into a beautiful drinking experience.”
To develop the new packaging and program branding, Upland worked with Indianapolis advertising agency Young & Laramore, as well as Michael Cina, an artist based in Minneapolis. “Michael Cina’s style depicts a beautiful blend of science and art, each resulting in a stunning visual experience,” says Dayhoff. “Paired with a new Belgian style bottle, we think it’s a great way to represent what you are getting in each bottle of an Upland Sour Ale.”
The Wood Shop is now open to the public for tours. New beers, packaging and increased distribution will all start in July and continue throughout the year.